Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s campus lecture venue draws criticism

The event’s sponsor claimed the decision to host Shapiro on the St. Paul campus was due to anti-conservative bias.

Commentator Ben Shapiro speaks at the 2016 Politicon at the Pasadena Convention Center on June 26, 2016 in Pasadena, California.

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Commentator Ben Shapiro speaks at the 2016 Politicon at the Pasadena Convention Center on June 26, 2016 in Pasadena, California.

Madeline Deninger

The University of Minnesota’s decision over what venue to host conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s Feb. 26 visit has drawn criticism from the event’s sponsor. 

The event, hosted by student groups Students for a Conservative Voice, Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow and Minnesota Students for Liberty, will take place at the North Star Ballroom on the University’s St. Paul Campus.

Young America’s Foundation, the sponsor of Shapiro’s 2018-2019 campus lecture tour, published an article on its website Wednesday claiming the University was hosting the event in a “small, remote venue” to deter more students from attending.

“Young America’s Foundation’s campus lecture with Ben Shapiro has been sequestered to a desolate venue, miles from the main campus, as the University of Minnesota shows its anti-conservative bias,” the statement read. 

In response, University President Eric Kaler issued a statement Wednesday saying the decision to host Shapiro in St. Paul was not politically motivated.

“Student leaders with Students for a Conservative Voice and Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow worked with Student Activities staff and UMPD to determine a space that would accommodate the 400-500 attendance the group was planning for, and that would allow for the appropriate security for the event,” Kaler’s statement read. 

The Daily Wire, the conservative news site of which Shapiro is Editor in Chief, tweeted out Young America’s Foundation’s statement Wednesday, encouraging followers to encourage administration to change the venue. 

Madison Dibble, the president of Students for a Conservative Voice, said in an emailed statement Wednesday night that she understands safety concerns, but said the “University routinely caves to the threat of the leftist protest.”

“Our event being in St. Paul is the result of a trend in the nation where leftist students find ideas to be so problematic that they must be silenced,” Dibble said.

In October, right-wing commentator Lauren Southern spoke at Anderson Hall on the University’s West Bank campus. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., also spoke in October at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on West Bank.